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Economic Impact Payment Debit Cards for Overseas Americans

The IRS has introduced prepaid debit cards as a means of issuing Economic Impact Payments, but will overseas Americans be prioritized for these payments over checks?

Published on May 29, 2020

The IRS recently confirmed that prepaid Debit Cards will be used, alongside checks, a means of delivering Economic Impact Payments (EIP) to eligible US Taxpayers who haven't supplied their bank details. The development means that some taxpayers will receive a prepard card instead of a check - a situation which may be preferrable particularly for Americans living overseas.

As many recipients of US checks overseas will know, there is often a time delay in cashing checks outside of America, and in some cases there are also additional fees. In either case, EIP cards would provide a much simpler, more efficient option for overseas Americans eligible for EIP than checks.

Explaining the news, Carmelan Polce, Chair of the Democrats Abroad Taxation Task Force, said that "The EIP Card (Visa debit card issued by MetaBank) can be used immediately upon activation and can be used to withdraw cash from an ATM, transfer funds to a bank account, issue a check or make purchases wherever Visa is accepted."

In their FAQs for the cards, the IRS also note that "Those who receive their Economic Impact Payment by prepaid debit card can do the following without any fees: Make purchases online and at any retail location where Visa is accepted; Get cash from in-network ATMs; Transfer funds to their personal bank account; Check their card balance online, by mobile app or by phone."

However, at present, who receives an EIP card versus a check is a decision made by the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Fiscal Service, and you are not able to request one form of payment over another. We have contacted the Bureau to ask if overseas Americans will be prioritized for EIP cards over checks due to the additional administration and time involved with cashing a check overseas, but we have not yet received a reply. We will update you if we do.

In the meantime, if you are one of the nearly 4 million people who the IRS say will be sent an EIP card, they note that the debit cards arrive in a plain envelope from "Money Network Cardholder Services", and that the cards will be issued by MetaBank. More answers about the cards and their functions can be found at www.eipcard.com.

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